Andrew Mackenzie, managing director of Dundee-based Verdant Spirits
Andrew Mackenzie, managing director of Dundee-based Verdant Spirits

From life in the F1 fast lane to creating gin

A former McLaren F1 marketing guru who went on to create an award-winning gin company is set to explain the winning formula for diversification.

Andrew Mackenzie, managing director of Dundee-based Verdant Spirits, spent 10 years as creative director of the marketing arm of the McLaren Formula 1 team, working alongside legendary drivers such as Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.

After returning to university to do a Masters degree in Food and Drink Innovation in 2013, Andrew established Verdant Spirits. He will be sharing his story at the first of a series of free food and drink diversification workshops organised by the Scottish Government’s Farm Advisory Service (FAS).

Led by experts from SAC Consulting, part of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), the one-day Unwrapping the Secrets to Success workshops are aimed at producers and new entrants who are considering adding value to farm produce through diversification.

The events, which all take place from 10.30am-3.30pm and include lunch, are as follows:

Monday 10 September: Lochter, Oldmeldrum, Inverurie, AB51 0DZ;

Tuesday 11 September: Barony, Parkgate, Dumfries, DG1 3NE;

Wednesday 12 September: Church Centre, Glencruitten Road, Oban, PA34 4DN.

Andrew Mackenzie, managing director of Dundee-based Verdant Spirits

Topics covered will include trends and innovation, branding and business value proposition. In addition to hearing from guest speakers, those attending will have the chance for a one-on-one consultancy session. Each workshop has a different guest speaker, each with a fascinating story to tell.

Andrew, who will be the guest speaker at Oldmeldrum, said: ‘I’m really looking forward to sharing my story at this workshop. There are a lot of things to weigh up when it comes to diversification, with one of the most important things being getting to know your customer base, but I hope I can inspire people with Verdant Sprits’ success.’

Ceri Ritchie, senior food and drink consultant at SRUC, said: ‘Andrew and all our guest speakers have a great story to share and we are excited to have them on board at these events.

‘Food and drink diversification is such a fantastic opportunity for rural businesses at the moment when consumers are looking for local products and visitors are looking for a fabulous food and drink experience.’

To register for an event, email or visit